Trails and trials of the writer who walks
If anyone arrived at this blog expecting it to be memoirs of a Pennine Way trip, they would have serious doubts as to my map-reading skills. I had fallen hopelessly behind schedule by the time I reached Hadrian’s Wall and did not want to waste my advance ticket back to Preston (only £9.95 with Senior Railcard) from Berwick-upon-Tweed, so I abandoned the plan to reach Kirk Yetholm, and followed The Wall to Newcastle instead, then took a train up the coast to Berwick where the fully refurbished youth hostel is one of the best I have ever stayed at.
On this misty morning, the sea was iron grey and lashing at the cliffs. I hunkered down between gorse bushes for a hot drink and sarnie, watching Flying Scotsmen roar past, wondering what the primroses had to smile about. They were more prolific on these cliffs than I have ever seen them, and the gorse was a dazzle of yellow and orange.
This is delightful walk from Berwick up to St Abbs, and there is a regular bus service up and down the A1, which is never far away, so you can return at your leisure from almost any point along it (The First and Last Inn at Upper Burnmouth for example).
The history of Berwick is the key to its lasting charm but it’s seaside resort persona is looking a little faded (aren’t they all?). I enjoyed the many views of its three bridges: the old bridge, the new bridge and the Stephenson bridge, by taking the river side walk on the east bank of the Tweed (the Berwick side), crossing at Whiteadder (come on, you can put that to song can’t you?) and returning on the west bank (the Spittal side).
I felt quite guilty enjoying two days at Berwick when I should have been slogging through the twin wildernesses of the Kielder Forest and the Cheviots. Still, I’ve saved a bit of Pennine Way for next year!
It occurred to me that next year, I will be 62 and entitled to a bus pass. I won’t need to book an advance rail ticket back. Once I get to Kirk Yetholm (in however long it takes, don’t rush me), I will simply walk back to England and head for home via local bus routes and perhaps the odd campsite.
Meanwhile, next month I will be in Kettlewell Youth Hostel for two nights with two like-minded female friends. We have been taking a short walking break once a year for the last six years, and progressively it has become less about walking and more about real ale and good pubs.